Bill to reduce power rates hurdles bicam

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) - Consumers may see their electricity bills reduced by nearly P1 per kilowatt hour (kWh) by September if President Rodrigo Duterte signs into law the proposed "Murang Kuryente Act."

The bill hurled the bicameral conference committee on Thursday. It the seeks to lower universal charges in electricity bills by tapping royalties from the Malampaya natural gas project in Palawan to pay debts incurred by the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).

Once enacted, Senate Energy Committee Chair Sherwin Gatchalian said households consuming an average of 200kWh per month will have a P170 reduction in their monthly electricity bill.

The senator estimates that 60 to 70 percent of the Malampaya fund will be used to pay off the debts of Napocor and PSALM, which currently stand at P466 billion. The remaining portion of the fund will be used for energy exploration projects.

"Based doon sa projection natin, sobra-sobra yung Malampaya fund. In fact, may matitira pang close to P100 billion kahit na pinapatupad na ang batas na ito," Gatchalian said.

The proposed "Murang Kuryente Act" is now up for ratification by the Senate and House of Representatives, then will be submitted to President Duterte for signing into into law. Congress, however, is in recess for the campaign period for the May midterm elections.

"We are hoping that the President will support this bill dahil nga ito yung kauna-unahang batas na diretso yung savings sa ating consumers," Gatchalian said.